There's no doubt getting three points at the Britannia stadium would send out a very loud message to our title rivals, on the flip a dropping of points would add weight to the arguments that our squad is not up to it in terms of depth, experience and defensive power.
A lot has been said in the last few days and some of the over reaction to Ted's very fair post Sunderland comments was a more than a little wide of the mark. Shouting loudly and accusing people of not being 'proper supporters' is not big, clever or indicative of someone who actually cares about the club. Being a proper supporter for me involves trying to be objective, not jumping on bandwagons and enjoying what I can, it's different for everybody of course.
What I find particularly frustrating is the attitude that some supporters have, they seem to think that the club or manager should never be questioned or criticised in any way at all, this is nothing but bizarre. Obviously we should appreciate what we've got, it's always easy to forget what success we've had over recent years, but sensibly pointing out some recent errors can be a very productive thing, you cannot improve if you do not learn from your mistakes, arguably this is where Arsene has gone wrong in recent years, he has live a little in denial and not seen the wood for the trees.
Anyways Stoke will be tired and it's as good as opportunity as any to get a result in their cauldron of hate. It looks like Sol will play with TV at centre back, there must be a good case for Eboue continuing at right back but he may well not. Hopefully Song and Cesc will be joined by Ramsey in the midfield three, while I'd like to see Walcott and Nasri flanking Bendtner. Injuries will keep Arshavin, Gallas and Diaby out of this one. The key will be weathering the early storm and keeping it tight for the first twenty minutes or so, if we can absorb the early bombardment, then you can guarantee that we'll be able to open them up on the break. However if we concede early as we did in the FA Cup then it will be an entirely different game. Come on you Gunners.